‘OU Forward’ sends message of unity to campus community

With hopes of welcoming everyone back to Oakland University (OU) and reconnecting after two years of being primarily online, President Ora Pescovitz invited students, staff and faculty to the “OU Forward” event on Sept. 13 to celebrate the new school year and discuss the future of OU.

Senior Vice President for Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer Glenn McIntosh got things started, inviting OU alum Kyle Marker to the stage to play a love ballad to kick off the gathering. McIntosh then introduced Pescovitz to the crowd and welcomed her up on stage.

Pescovitz began by thanking everyone for coming and highlighting the students who were in attendance for the event. She touched on the events she has attended in the past weeks, such as the new student convocation and the carnival held by SPB.

Pescovitz pointed out the positive energy around campus and hopes it will sustain for the entire semester.

“It’s energizing, it’s inspirational, it’s exciting and we want this to allow us to have the most incredible semester,” she said. “What we’re doing here today during this gathering is what we call OU Forward.”

“As an institution of higher learning, we believe that we have to do everything that we can to continue to move Oakland University forward and to be as responsive as we can be to the needs of our students — and frankly, to everyone within our campus community,” she added.

While virtual bonds have been created over the past several years, Pescovitz wants everyone to come together and reconnect with each other in person. She emphasized the OU community is a team with a united mission to transform the lives of all connected to OU.

Pescovitz commemorated the students who persevered during the times of online classes and uncertainty, and also the faculty and staff who had to adjust to teaching through things like Zoom.

“We’ve also learned that we have a steadfast commitment, and that is to provide the highest quality educational experiences for our students,” Pescovitz said. “And we do commit to this common purpose, and I am so proud of that.” 

“In ways never done before the pandemic, all of you have reached higher and extended yourselves to our students, so I want to thank you for being so flexible, so creative, so resourceful, so compassionate and so passionate about what you do,” she added.

Pescovitz talked of her hopes to make OU a place where students come to make their dreams a reality. She mentioned there would be updates on a variety of issues as well as projects and initiatives in the coming weeks.

She took a moment to highlight OU’s campus saying how beautiful it is and part of the reason for it being the diversity of the people on campus. She encouraged people to smile and say hello to others on campus to help reconnection, as well as to attend campus events like performances by the School of Music, Theatre and Dance.

Towards the end of her speech, Pescovitz introduced a new idea which is set to begin this week; Golden Grizzlies Saturday. The idea is to have everyone associated with the university wear OU swag and share it on social media.

“Wherever we go, we’ll show our Golden Grizzlies pride. I think it’s a great idea. We’re going to start that this Saturday, and I hope you’ll demonstrate your Oakland University Golden Grizzlies pride,” she said.

“This is just one of many ways that I hope we can build our pride and make us stronger as a community this year. Our collective identity as we reconnect internally and bring more people… which is one of the things we all want to do for this university that we love,” she added.

Pescovitz gave her closing remarks and once again thanked everyone for working together to move OU forward. McIntosh came back on stage to thank President Pescovitz for her time and her work for the university and gave his closing remarks.

“We talked about the enormous energy that’s on our campus and energy allows us to build momentum. It’s that momentum that allows us to get through and over any fears and challenges; they’re opportunities disguised. So let’s move forward in the spirit of high energy,” he said.